Hundreds of health workers who were already vaccinated become infected with covid-19 in Indonesia

(Reuters) – More than 350 doctors and health workers have been infected with COVID-19 in Indonesia despite being vaccinated with Sinovac, according to authorities, as concern grows about the effectiveness of some vaccines against the most infectious variants of the coronavirus.

Most of the infected workers were asymptomatic and isolating themselves at home, said Badai Ismoyo, head of the Kudus district health office in central Java, but dozens have been hospitalized with high fevers and falling levels. oxygen saturation.

Kudus, which has about 5,000 health workers, is battling an outbreak believed to be driven by the more contagious delta variant, which has raised its bed occupancy rates above 90%.

Designated as a priority group, health workers were among the first to be vaccinated when inoculations began in January.

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of Sinovac’s covid-19 vaccine at a public hospital in Bogor, Indonesia, on Jan.14.

Almost all have received the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, according to the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI).

Although the number of Indonesian health workers who have died from COVID-19 has dropped sharply, from 158 in January to 13 in May, according to data initiative group LaporCovid-19, public health experts say hospitalizations in Java are cause for concern.

Concern about new variants

‘The data shows that they have the delta variant (in Kudus), so it is not surprising that the progression of the infection is greater than before, since, as we know, most of the health workers in Indonesia received Sinovac, and We don’t yet know how effective it is in the real world against the delta variant, ”said Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Griffith University in Australia.

A spokesperson for Sinovac was not immediately available to comment on the effectiveness of the CoronaVac vaccine, developed by the Chinese company, against the new variants of the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) this month approved the emergency use of the Sinovac vaccine, saying the results showed it prevented symptomatic disease in 51% of recipients and avoided severe COVID-19 and hospital stays. .

Sinovac vaccine is only 50.38% effective 2:25

Fatigue in healthcare workers

As Indonesia grappled with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia, with more than 1.9 million infections and 53,000 deaths, its doctors and nurses have suffered 946 deaths.

Many are now experiencing pandemic fatigue and not observing health protocols with the same care after being vaccinated, said Lenny Ekawati of LaporCovid-19.

Across Indonesia, at least five doctors and one nurse have died from COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, according to LaporCovid-19, although one of them had only received the first dose.

Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a senior health ministry official, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how many doctors have died since the vaccination program began.

In Kudus, an experienced doctor has died, IDI said.

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Nadia said there had been no deaths in Kudus since the new outbreak began in recent weeks among medical workers and that those who contracted COVID-19 have had mild symptoms.

They warn that it is not possible to “rely only on vaccines”

In the capital Jakarta, radiologist Dr. Prijo Sidipratomo told Reuters that he knew of at least half a dozen doctors hospitalized with COVID-19 in the last month despite being vaccinated, and that one of them was being treated in a unit. intensive care.

“It’s alarming for us because we can’t just rely on vaccines,” he said, urging people to take precautions.

Weeks after the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, Indonesia has seen an increase in cases, with a positivity rate that surpassed 23% on Wednesday and daily infections approaching 10,000, its highest since the end of February. .

In its latest report, the WHO urged Indonesia to tighten the blockade in the face of increased transmission and increased bed occupancy rates.

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